Jean’s inventive clothespin solution keeps his jacket hood from his eyes during a rainy walk with Woodle, aka Talkeetna the MalamutePhoto by: Earthfire

 by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. —

Journal Entry: The chickens were mad. It was a dreary dark rainy morning in April and I didn’t get up at 6 am to let them out. Sally, the most assertive (named after our office manager) let me know she wasn’t pleased. She stalked past me the moment I opened the door. She had been waiting. (We are blessed with several queens of different species in our mixed family). She also wasn’t pleased about the rain and mud either, though it did mean better scratching. In general she is a hard-to-please chicken (no comment about our office manager).

Sally is afraid of nothing – she, in her opinion, owns the entire property. She tolerates us. Though apparently we are useful when we carry buckets of meat for other animals. She races after us demanding. Sally is not a vegetarian.

Sally the chicken knows no fear | Photo by Earthfire

Her sister Brunhilde is second in line and a faithful follower of Sally. Forget the wolves and bears — with watch chickens, watch buffalo and watch donkeys the property is safe. The other chickens are more mellow, some being downright sweet. They are thoroughly intimidated. Though actually younger and stronger, the intimidation is purely psychological. We have to keep them separate. Sally is a bit of a bully.

Journal Entry: I went out to speak to Jean in the spring rain and saw him in his new raincoat with a clothespin sticking out the top of the hood.  I asked why. Though I should know better by now. In response he took off the clothespin and the hood fell directly over his eyes. “Oh.” I said. Inelegant perhaps, but Jean is not a vain man. Still – it was a startling sight each time the waving clothespin passed back and forth by the office window. Staff comments: “Problem solver”…..  

Jean’s inventive clothespin solution keeps his jacket hood from his eyes during a rainy walk with Woodle, aka Talkeetna the Malamute | Photo by Earthfire

Journal Entry: The killdeer are back! Those delicate little birds with their haunting cries that speak of spring and hope and life in all its beauty and sadness. Life! Maybe some are last year’s babies from this land

The Killdeer | Photo by the Zen Birdfeeder

Journal Entry: Late winter early spring there is a hard crust on the snow. As I walked past the duck area Mo the duck waddled as fast as he could up a slight incline running and flapping.  At the top he turned around and launched himself like a (slow) torpedo down the incline on his belly. Then he did it again. He was going duck sledding.

Journal Entry: Every time I go to the local health food store the clerks ask, “ How are the bears? Are they still sleeping?” The other day I said they are awake and cranky and they want blueberries. I was half joking, though they do love their blueberries). Tracy the cashier asked: “How many bears do you have?” “Five.” Without a word she went back to the freezer and came back with five large bags of frozen blueberries. I defrosted them so the flavor would be stronger. Each bear got his personal bag. Settling on their bellies, each blueberry was pulled toward a waiting tongue, each savored individually. The bears are really rather delicate eaters. They do not wolf their food down…..

Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.

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